How to Fix Your Entire Life With Herbs, According to a Professional Witch


Urban Outfitters

Southern California’s lush and sunny climate has its benefits—less seasonal affective disorder, more perennially glowing skin—but it also means my allergies never quit. I’m as congested and bleary-eyed in the middle of the city as I would be in a hayfield; I’ve actually Googled whether it’s possible to be allergic to palm trees. (Answer: yes! But that’s probably not my issue.) After sampling a cornucopia of prescription and over-the-counter meds that worked on my sinuses but left me feeling alternately exhausted or anxious, I had all but committed to my life as a wheezy, runny-eyed mess. Then, my acupuncturist suggested I go herbal.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical: You have to take a whopping nine “tea pills” every day, and it takes about two weeks before the benefits even kick in. But I had nothing to lose, so I did a test run. It was nearly three weeks later when, after a dusty-trail hike, it suddenly occurred to me that I could breathe. I thought back to the night before: I’d cuddled with my dog, and my eyes didn’t water. Somewhere along the course of my test run, the pills—Pe Min Kan Wan, for my fellow allergy sufferers—had worked.

Despite the fact that nearly one-third of Americans incorporate herbs into their health and wellness routines, before I discovered my miracle allergy cure, I’d considered herbal medicine a spiritual palliative rather than a legitimate form of medicine. It’s hard for me to deny that lighting incense or making tea puts me in a more open, compassionate, and creative headspace; why hadn’t I considered that the same plants could have positive effects on my physical health?

To discover what other remedies I was missing out on, I decided to consult an expert who could offer advice on how to heal my mind, body, and spirit: a real-life witch. (While witchcraft was traditionally reserved for Shakespearean dramas, Halloween stories, and horror flicks, today's witches are very real-world. The modern witch's MO involves setting intentions, working with nature, and rejecting the power of the patriarchy, which, honestly, sounds pretty rational to me.) Rochelle Eisenberger is the founder of Empress Herbs, a North Carolina–based, one-stop shop for sustainably sourced salves, oils, and herbs, and a full-time witch. When she isn’t harvesting herbs or crafting concoctions, Eisenberger offers bespoke wellness consultations as the in-house herbalist at intentional-lifestyle shop Everyday Magic, where vacationing Byrdie editors have been known to pick up jewelry, gems, and other modern metaphysical goods. 

I was lucky enough to pick Eisenberger’s brain on her definitive pantry primer for those of us just getting into herbal medicine and was pleasantly surprised when she shared several powerhouse plants that I’d never even heard of before. Below, check out a witch’s must-have herbs for everything from gut health to good vibes in our definitive guide to herbal medicine.

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